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Can Alabama repeat?

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 3:44 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Defending a championship is hard. Maybe one of the hardest things to do in sports. You’ve heard coaches say many times it’s harder to stay at the top than it is to get there.

Well, Alabama’s been at the top of college football for a long time now, but with all the championships Nick Saban has won, he’s only repeated once.

Can the tide do it this year? They’re replacing eight starters on offense. Five of those were taken in the first round of the NFL draft. “The challenge is you’ve got to rebuild with a lot of new players who will be younger, have new roles, less experience, and how do they respond to these new roles? That’s why rebuilding is a tremendous challenge. That’s why it’s very difficult to repeat,” Tide head coach Nick Saban said. “We’re going to be a work in progress as we focus on improvement, and that’s going to be critical to our success.”

Alabama also has a new offensive coordinator. Steve Sarkisian left for Texas, and in comes former Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. “We’re not changing offenses,” said Saban. “We’ve got a good offense. We’ve got a good system. We’ve got a good philosophy. Bill has certainly added to that in a positive way, and we’ll probably continue to make some changes.”

The defense is another story. Eight starters are back on that side of the ball. Plus the tide picked up former Tennessee linebacker Henry To’oTo’o in the transfer portal. “We thought he was an outstanding player in high school. We’re talking about a fine young man who’s very intelligent, very instinctive player, very conscientious,” Saban says. “I think there’s a lot of positives that he can bring.”

The schedule doesn’t start easy for Alabama. There’s a week one matchup with Miami in Atlanta, followed by a trip to Gainesville in week three to face Florida.

“I think it will be exciting,” wide receiver John Metchie III said. “I’m really excited for that, especially knowing that we’re going to be playing a good team and we’re going to be in a great atmosphere. I think that will definitely be exciting. Like you said, early on in the season, I think it will be a good challenge for us.”

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